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“A perfect stay - the luxurious way to enjoy the bush!”

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Chapungu Tented Bush Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 21, 2011

My wife and I booked Chapungu as part of a safari tour with South African Airways Vacations. From the giraffes we saw on our initial drive in, we knew that this was going to be a special trip.

The lodge itself is small, with couches and dining tables out in the open. A small rock pool inhabits the space between the lodge and the bar, which contains another dining area and a well-stocked liquor and beer cabinet at reasonable prices. There are eight tents, I believe, and ours was well-appointed with all of the amenities of home. Nice touches included the outside bath, good air conditioning, comfy bed, voltage adaptor, and spacious layout.

We stayed for 3 days and 2 nights, with 2 game rides a day. Wake up is at 5, and coffee and biscuits are served before you hit the bush at a quarter to six. All of the Rovers are linked by radio, and there are spotters operating in the bush, so riders are nearly certain to see something. Our ranger and tracker seemed to space out what we saw on each given ride, which left us seeing something new virtually every trip. An added benefit of visiting a private game lodge is that the ranger is able to go off-road to track and approach the animals - as a result, we were able to get as safely close to the animals as possible and track them as they moved. All and all, we saw the big 5 in various different guises, as well as a myriad of other wildlife.

Evening game rides start at 4 p.m., and drinks are served at sunset. On the ride back to the lodge, the spotter breaks out a spotlight and you can see the animals in the bush -on our first ride, we saw three lionesses resting for the night.

The food is served communally, though since we shared the lodge with conventioneers, we had the run of the place for our stay. Other reviewers were less than positive about the food, but we found every meal to be very well-prepared and enjoyable. Breakfast is continental with eggs prepared to order, and lunch is served buffet style by the bar.

The service at Chapungu was simply magnificent. We were celebrating my birthday and our first anniversary, and the lodge was kind enough to prepare a private meal for us on our balcony for my birthday, and draw a bath and send champagne for our anniversary. The entire staff, from the maids to our butler to the ranger and tracker attended to our every want and need and sought to make sure that we had a truly unique and remarkable experience. We highly recommend Chapungu and encourage those looking for a luxurious yet reasonable safari experience to stay here.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank MKB1701
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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127 - 133 of 188 reviews

Reviewed September 24, 2011

Chapungu Lodge is part of the Thornybush Group and is a delightful place to stay. Small,only eight tented cabins, and wonderfully equipped. From the decor to the food to the attitude of the staff - everything about the Chapungu Lodge is all that you could hope for. I would return in a minute!

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank awayagainmichigan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 11, 2011

We stayed at Chapungu for 5 days and saw some wonderful animals on our game drive. Our tracker Derrick and Ranger Sipps were great.

On the accommodation side, the tents are wonderful and the camp is beautiful.

Where we were less impressed was the menu. Breakfast and lunches were very good. The dinners were not up to par with the way in which Thornybush markets itself. The camp was somewhat formal - assigning people to eat together (which they quicky rectified when we ask for the change) and assigning a butler. We thought this was too formal and not really necessary.

Overall this camp lives up to its expectations for richness in game drives and accommodations. Dinners could be improved.

  • Stayed: September 2011
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4  Thank Laviolek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2011

Chapungu is situated some 30 minutes from the airfield Hoedspuit and we were met by a minibus that took us comfortably to the Chapungu.
When we arrived at Chapungu it was like being invited into someones private home. The tents are amazing with all the comfort one can ask for. The staff did their outmost to make shure that we were comfortable. Experienced guide and tracker added to the experience and managed to present us to all the "big five" and other animals of interest. Just imagine stopping the Land Rover for a sundowner served on the hood with zebras looking on nearby.
After a days safari we slept like babies in our fantastic tents.
We already miss Chapungu and we will definitely return if we get the chance
We booked our safari tour via Souther-Eagle and we can highly recommend this tour operator.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled with family
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2  Thank Povl H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2011

We stayed here for 4 nights as the first part of our honeymoon. The honeymoon tent was fantastic, with a massive comfortable bed, air conditioning (was needed), showers & outside bath. The balcony looked out into the bush, & we were not overlooked.

Our typical day started with a wake up call at 5am, & after a drink & biscuits we left for our game drive. We then returned for breakfast at about 9am, which consisted of ceral or something cooked. We then relaxed around the camp, & there was a nice rock pool, a very comfortable lounge area with books to read, & loungers to relax on. There was a little shop, where we bought a few gifts & could send postcards. There was a bigger shop at the main lodge, which we asked to go to. Lunch was served at about 2.30pm, which was a lovely buffet with dishes introduced by the chef - a very nice touch. We then left for our afternoon game drive at 4pm, which continued into the night. We would return at about 7pm, & dinner was served at about 7.30pm. On one night we had a bouma BBQ, on another a lovely steak meal, & on another a romantic meal served to us on our balcony - although after a lot of rain the bugs were out in force & we retreated in our tent to eat, great fun though ! What I loved around the camp is that the rangers, & the managers (the two ladies who seemed to run camp) mixed with us..especially at the bar ! & really made us feel welcome.

Now for the important part - the game drives. For half of the stay we went out with Ismahl & the other Pieter. I could not believe how many animals we saw, right here goes...Giraffe, Hippo's, Baboons, Elephants, Cheetehs, Leopards, Male & Female lions, White & Black Rhinos, Zebra & so much more. The ranger's were superb, & would ask what we had & hadn't seen, then would try & find animals. It was a combination of tracking - the spotters at the front of the landrovers were excellent, & using the radio to ask other rangers. As a first safari, I think being on a private reserve was the best option, as there was a better chance of seeing a wide variety of animals. Another couple went to on a day trip to Kruger national park, & it took all day to see one type of animal.

I also think 4 nights was the right length of stay, as by then we had seen lots of animals. We loved how close we got to the animals, & once on the trail, we would leave the road, through the bush & stop right in front of lions, cheetehs, elephants etc.. - about 4 metres away. There was only one morning we could not do this because we had so much rain the night before - the rangers were not allowed to leave the roads. I would have been disappointed if this happened often, so maybe a word of caution if you stay during the rainy season.

The only extra's we had to pay for were drinks & souveniers. The drinks were good value, a bottle of water was 5 rand (42p), coke 10 rand (85p) & beer 12 rand (£1). The only thing we found it hard to get used to was tipping. The folder in our tent suggested we tipped the ranger 150 rand (£12.74) the spotter 100 rand (£8.49) & general staff 100 rand (£8.49) all per day - which could be paid at the end of stay. For us this would be over £100 for our stay. Yes we did tip, & yes everyone deserved being tipped, but we felt slightly uncomfortable by the folder stating the amount. If we had known before we left, we could have prepared ourselves. Tipping in South Africa is expected.

Overall our stay was amazing, the camp was fantastic, and the safari was more than we could ever have expected.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Richard_NCFC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2010

My new husband and I stayed here for 4 nights after a safari tour. It was the perfect way to end our South African adventure.

The staff were very friendly and attentive - did all they could to make sure we were enjoying our stay. After morning game drives the lodge manager would be waiting to wish you a good morning and find out how your drive went. After evening game drives a staff member was always waiting to give you a warm face cloth and a shot of liqueur to warm you up - great touch.
The food was always AMAZING... we never once felt hungry.

Our tent was devine - the bed was super comfortable and the turn down service was excellent - infact one evening we came back from a game drive to find our bed was scattered with flowers and we had a chilled bottle of sparkling wine - gorgeous.

Game drives were great fun - Ishmael and Arbury were fantastic and very humorous. Having all of the lodges within the Thornybush park linked up via radio contact certainly helped to make our game drives worthwhile - we got to see LOTS!!

Between game drives there is plenty of time to relax either around the lodge or in your room - its a very quiet place.

We loved our stay here and hope be back to celebrate a wedding anniversary some time in the future

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Wylie84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2009

We spent 2 nights at the Lodge; everything would have been great with a great weather...but it was freezing cold, rainy and windy! No problems for the safari, we could handle that and they were great!
But the lodge has refused to put gas heaters because it is not the regular season! We ended up to have dinners outside, in windy places and it was 10 degrees celsius outside. Most of the rooms, including ours, were not having heaters in their room neithers...The staff and the management couldn't care.... Really a pity, a very nice and luxury lodge....but you judge service with exceptional circumstances; and the management just didn't care

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank LudoPrague
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chapungu Tented Bush Camp

Address: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range: $306 - $1,125 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Chapungu Tented Bush Camp 4*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chapungu Tented Bush Camp sits at the heart of the Thornybush Private Game Reserve. With only 8 rooms, you are guaranteed peace and solitude, deep in the African bush, while still enjoying the comforts a luxury lodge offers. Tastefully furnished in old world colonial splendour, in a style and class of a bygone era, Chapungu offers guests private and exclusive accommodation in comfortable, air-conditioned en-suite safari tents . Dinners are usually enjoyed outside in the Boma where all tastes and preferences are catered for. Settle around a log fire to recount the days’ game experiences before retiring to the lounge for a night-cap, or the comfort of your tent. Morning and evening game drives in open safari vehicles with your ranger and tracker, ensure close and unrestricted encounters with the wildlife. Our passionate team will make sure that your experience in the African bush, is one to remember. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Chapungu Camp Hotel Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Chapungu Tented Bush Camp South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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